Pottery Dogs

Eastern Han Dynasty
Henan Provincial Museum, Zhengzhou

The appealing and personalilzed expression of the dog on the left is largely due to the skilful modeling of the skin folds on its muzzle. Its decorated harness includes front ribbons, collar, chest band, and a loop on the back for attaching a leash. Evidently, this figure represents a high-status pet. In the photo on the right, another dog growls menacingly – or is it just being playful? (similar example). The close observation and careful reproduction of canine typology and expression in tomb figurines is an indication of the affectionate bond that Han people must have felt with these companion animals.